Is this Clownageddon?
The Clowns of America International president says his group’s membership has taken a pratfall – and Fairfield’s Corky the Magic Clown isn’t surprised.
“They come and go so fast,” said Corky of her fellow clowns. “A lot of times, people think we’re like fourth- or fifth-level (entertainers). They diminish us and they don’t like to pay the money that (clowns) are worth.”
She also said there are too many poser clowns – those who give bad names to clowns because they’re untrained.
It’s a worldwide jester crisis – the World Clown Association has seen its membership fall from about 3,500 a decade ago to 2,500. That’s a decrease of 28 percent, bozo.
“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” WCA president Deanna Hartmeirin told the New York Daily News.
Glen Kohlberger, the president of Clowns of America International, echoed those thoughts to the same newspaper.
“What’s happening is attrition. The older clowns are just passing away,” he said.
Younger merrymakers, he suggested, aren’t taking their seat in the clown car. And the standards for elite clowning are demanding.
Want proof? According to the Daily News, there were 531 applicants to the Ringling Bros. Clown College in 2013, but only 14 were selected to take part in a two-week boot camp and just 11 were offered jobs with the circus.
The Greatest Show on Earth employs 26 clowns – or about half as many as the Oakland Raiders. (Boom!)
David Kiser, the director of talent for Ringling Bros., said there’s a reason to be so picky.
“Our audience expects to be wowed,” he said. “No longer is it good enough to just drop your pants and focus on boxer shorts.”
Well, so much for my retirement plans, but Kiser’s point is echoed by Fairfield’s Corky the Magic Clown (real name Keri Doran).
“People are trying to do it to get extra money, but it’s a lot of work and emotional investment,” she said. “And it’s not that much extra money.”
Her show will often include an hour of magic, then balloon sculptures (which she says many other clowns take too lightly) or temporary tattoos. If there are 20 kids at a party – she says most of her work is with kids – it will cost about $250.
When you consider the price of hiring a bounce house (around $100 each) or ponies (minimum of $100 per hour), $250 for a few hours of magic and clowning isn’t that much. You get an entertainer in makeup who will thoroughly entertain those children who aren’t terrified.
Corky says clowning is good entertainment – but she says it is still competitive. Sometimes fiercely so.
“Some other clowns won’t even talk to other performers,” she said. “I think that’s sick. I’m not in competition with them.”
Wait. “Clowns” who won’t talk?
Mimes! Maybe that’s where all the clowns have gone!
Isn’t it rich?
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.